It is important to have strong legs! Your legs are your power house and help to keep you balanced and moving all throughout your day. Working out your legs has many benefits that will increase your overall health.
By keeping your legs in good shape you will have more energy doing house hold chores or doing fun things like playing with your kids. You will have better balance with strong legs which will help you to avoid injuries. And If you are an athlete, having strong legs is critical to improving in your sport.
When you workout your legs you are using big muscle such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, abductors, gluteus and calves. By working all these muscle groups you will be burning maximum calories during your workout. Here are the top 5 exercises to make your leg workouts effective and efficient.
| |The Squat is a must do exercise for any leg workout routine. They will help with your hip strength and flexibility
. The squat hits the gluteus, hamstrings, and quads. This is considered a compound movement and burns max calories along with promoting muscle growth!
The Deadlift is a great exercise that mainly hits the hamstrings and gluteus. This exercise is a very functional exercise, meaning it will help you in everyday life activities, The deadlift burns lots of calories and promotes muscle growth. They will help your flexibility and strengthen your back and core.
The step-up is a wonderful compound movement to have in your leg workout. It primarily works the quad but the hamstring and gluteus help to assist in the movement. This is a great exercise to preform to keep your heart rate up during your workout.
The lunge is an awesome exercise that will help increase your leg strength. The lunge targets the quads, but uses the hamstrings and gluteus as secondary muscle groups. The exercise will help increase your hip flexor flexibility and overall stability of your body. It is a very functional exercise and will also burn many calories during your workout.
Calf Raises are a good exercise to do while training the legs. The two muscles used are the gastrocnemius and soleus. By strengthening these two muscles you can reduce the amount of stress on your Achilles tendon. Strong calves will help you jump higher to help you through any plyometric exercises you preform.
By doing these five exercise you will gain lots of strength, flexibility, endurance and increase your overall fitness level. A great workout for these five exercises would be:2 sets of 15 SquatsSpin
- 2 minutes2 sets of 15 DeadliftsIncline
Treadmill - 2 minutes2 sets of 15 Step-ups (each leg)Spin - 2 minutes2 sets of 15 Lunges (each leg)Sprint (treadmill) - 2 minutes2 sets of 15 Calf RaisesNow try to do that circuit one more time through. If you can do this you are well on your way to a strong and fit body. Good luck on training your legs
! Make sure you eat a proper diet
to go along with all your hard work put into your workouts.ferrum fitness
When embarking on a workout program
it is critical to plan "recovery days". It sounds easy but this component is often overlooked by most. When you work out you literally tear the muscle tissue, your body needs time to heel and repair the torn muscle tissue. This healing process is critical for you to make progress and see improvement.
The Principle of Adaptation states that when your body undergoes the stress of physical exercise, your body adapts and becomes more efficient. For this process to happen your training program needs scheduled rest days to give your body time to recover. Your body can only handle so much stress before it breaks down and the risk for injury is increased.
There are two different types of recovery, let's look into the two different types of recovery; short-term recovery and long-term recovery. Short-term recovery, also called active recovery, refers to the minutes and hours just following your workout. When you finish your workout it is important to cool down. By cooling down you will allow your body to begin the process
of recovering. There are several things you should do to help your body with its short-term recovery:
- engage in low-intensity cardio and light stretching after your workout
- Work on deep breathing to replenish the oxygen stores you have burned through
- replenish your fuel stores by drinking plenty of fluids along with eating the right foods within 30-60 minutes after your workout
Long-term recovery refers to your workout schedule in the long run; days, weeks, months even for the year. There are several things you should do to help your body recover on a long-term basis:
- get plenty of sleep, this is one of the most important! HGH (human growth hormone) is naturally released in your body while you sleep. This is the hormone that helps heel and repair your muscle tissue. Inadequate sleep can cause many problems such as increase levels of cortisol, decrease in the production of HGH, decrease in aerobic endurance, along with being tired and moody during the day.
- take a day off! Give yourself time away from training, if you workout two or three days in a row make sure to take a day off
- do not train the same muscle groups on back to back days
- if your workouts are more intense then you will need more rest or have a low-intensity day with good stretching and rolling following an intense workout.
If you do not give yourself recovery time your body will potentially become over trained. Over training is not just bad for your body but to your overall health. You are much more susceptible to injury, when your body is broken down and you continue to workout you can strain or tear your muscle and put major wear and tear on your joints.
Other symptoms of over training include, chronic fatigue, loss of strength, intense muscle pain, reduced appetite, little interest in training, mood changes, higher rate of illness and slower rate of healing and recovery. It is important to allow your body some rest so you get all the benefits exercise can give you. You want to feel better because of exercise not worse.Things you can do to avoid over training are to add variety to your workouts. Change things up a bit, for example, the day following a hard resistance training day, do low intensity cardio and stretch or gentle yoga. This will keep your body guessing and you will avoid hitting a plateau. The human body is an amazing machine, even the best machines need a break. Make sure your workout program has scheduled recovery days. If you are unsure how to work in recovery days to your program working with a personal trainer can help to get you on track and see the benefits exercise has to offer.Sources:RecoveryRest and Recovery After Exercise
Warming up and cooling down your body before and after your workouts is critical to keeping your body injury free and feeling good after your workouts. Most people want to get the most out of their workouts and feel warming up and cooling down is not a good use of their time. Well this is not the case, here are some very important reasons why you should be spending time warming up and cooling down.Importance of warming up:- Getting your core temperature up before you start vigorous exercise
is critical to loosen up your muscles and tendons to prevent injury-
Warming up increasing the amount of calories you burn through your workout- You will find when you are warmed up you are less likely to be out of breath during your workouts- Warming up increases your concentration
keeping you more focus- Warming up helps to reduce muscle stiffnessIt takes your body around 3 minutes to realize it needs to start pumping more blood to the muscles. You should be warming up from 5-10 minutes. Each person is different and may need more. Exercise such as walking, dynamic stretching and light static stretching are great ways to get your body ready for working out.
Taking deep breaths while you warm up will supply the body with oxygen getting it ready for a great workout.Importance of cooling down:-
Cooling down reduces the pulse getting your heart rate back to normal- Cooling down allows the blood flow back to the heart to help you reduce the amount of lactic acid in the muscles causing muscle pain-
Reduces delayed onset soreness- Increase your flexibility
- Cooling down will help you avoid getting dizzy, light-headed, crampy and shortness of breathIt also takes your body 3 minutes to cool down. A slow walk or slow body movement followed by stretches that you hold for about 30 seconds each will be a sufficient cool down. You will find by adding in a warm up and cool down to your workouts you will be making your workouts much more effective and efficient. Remember working out
and staying fit is about the health of your body. Take care of your body first and foremost and your fitness goals will follow.Source:The importance of warm up and cool down before and after a sports activity/workout
Once you have your squat forms
down and you have good control over your body by working on the squat knee drives and squat side kicks
, now it is time to add in a cardio element to your squat workouts! Adding in small jumps to your squats will increase the difficulty of your workouts ten fold! Because of this you may need to make sure you get a bit more rest in between sets and you may not be able to do as many reps, this is ok because your work level will be so much greater. Jump squats are considered a plyometric exercises. Plyometrics
, or "plyos" for short, are a type of exercise designed to produce fast and powerful movements. Plyos will help you develop muscular power and speed which will burn lots of calories in the process making your workouts very effective and efficient. As with any squat it is critical you have the proper form and posture when performing this movement. If you have not been following the squat series please look back for explanation of proper form of a basic squat first.
When I say jump in your squat jump I am only talking about a little "bunny hop", start with a small soft jump first and then increase the size of your jumps.Starting with your feet hip width apart, lower down into your squat position as you go to lift your body push through your heels and do a light jump. When you go to jump think heel to toe as you lift off the ground, when you lower back down think toe down to heel as you lower back to your squat position. Feel very light on your feet, your knees act like a spring. You DO NOT want to have a jarring motion as you hit the ground. You want to absorb the impact of the landing by being light on your feet and the weight of your body ends back into your heel again as you go back to your squat.Work on doing three sets of twelve reps of your squat jumps. As you practice work on less rest between sets and see if you can increase your repetitions. This is a great exercise to add in between other exercises to get your heart rate up and burn those calories. Example:Basic body weight squat - 2 sets of 12 repsSumo Squat - 2 sets of 12 repsSquat jump - 2 sets of 12 repsThis will give you a great quad and leg burn. Come on in to ferrum fitness and let us show you how you can make these exercises a part of your workout routine to get all you can from your workouts! Good luck on your journey toward being a healthier, more fit version of yourself. We hope you have enjoyed our squat series.
Now that you have several different types of squats in your arsenal with your basic squat form
, quick squat and sumo squats, let's start adding in some dynamic movements to your squats. I hope you have been practicing because these exercises are tough! If you haven't been practicing please look over our first blog post on proper form of your squats
, as this is critical to get down before you start making your squats more dynamic. We also gave some variations to the basic squat
for you to practice to help you get ready for a more functional squat.The first exercise is the squat to knee drive. You will be doing a basic squat, but when you are at the bottom of the squat (your thighs are parallel to the floor) you will transfer your weight to one of your feet (let us just say your right). As you come up to standing you will drive through your right heel and begin to lift your left leg off the ground, driving your left knee to your chest as you come to standing. Your right leg will be doing most of the work as if you are doing a one leg squat.
This exercise works all the same muscles as a basic squat
but now you are adding in an element of stability. You will also be working more of your hip flexor and lower ab by adding in the knee drive. The second exercise is the squat to side kick. You will be doing your basic squat, but
when you are at the bottom of the squat (your thighs are parallel to the floor) you will again transfer your weight to one of your feet (let us just say your right) and now as you stand up from your squat you will kick your left leg out to the side. Same as the squat to knee drive your right leg is doing most of the work as if you are doing a one leg squat. This exercise is similar to the squat to knee drive in that you are working all the same muscles as the basic squat and adding in an element of stability. With this exercise however you will be working your outer hip and your oblique with the side kick added in.These exercises are considered to be more functional and dynamic because of the stability factor added in.
This will help you to control your body in space which is a critical element to your training. Once you feel comfortable with your own body and where it is in space the exercises you will be able to accomplish are endless. Work on both these exercises by doing 2 sets of 12 on each leg of each exercise. Example:2 sets of squat to knee drive, 1 set of 12 reps on each leg2 sets of squat to side kick, 1 set of 12 reps on each legPractice these exercise as they will prepare you for our next level of squat for our next weeks blog post. Stay toned for next week to learn how to turn your squats into cardio!
I hope you have been practicing your basic squat
form because this week we are going to work and two different variations. By doing different variations of squats you will emphasize different areas of the muscle groups that the squat exercise hits. If you have not read our previous post on basic squat form and what muscles it hits please review your squat form
The first variation is what we call a sumo squat (also known as the plie squat, shown above). With this variation your feet will be wider than your basic squat. So you are in a wide stance with your toes pointed out. As you come down keep your core engaged and your back up right. As you get to about 90 degrees begin to push back up through your heels, feel as though you are trying to draw your heels together. When you reach the top really give the glutes a good squeeze almost as though you are tucking your hips up under you. The sumo squat will emphasize the inner thigh and glutes especially if you focus on the squeeze of the glutes at the top of the squat. Work on doing 3 sets of 15 reps of the sumo squat.The second variation is what we call a quick squat. This type of squat your feet and knees are pushed together (there will be no space between your knees and feet). As you come down push your butt back keeping your knees directly over your feet and your back up right. Try to go down to 90 degrees or slightly lower if your flexibility allows for it. When you push back up drive through your heels. The quick squat will target the outside of the hip and glute as well as the outside of the quad. Work on doing 3 sets of 15 reps of the quick squat.Here is a good circuit to work on that will include your basic squat:- 2 sets of basic squat (get warmed up first)- 2 sets of sumo squats- 2 sets of quick squat
sNow repeat this all over again. Add some jumping jacks in between to add a cardio element to get that heart rate pumping. This will give you a quick yet efficient workout! Practice your forms because next week we will add in an agility element to our squats that will challenge your body to the max!
For the month of August our focus will be on the basic squat exercise and learning some great variations from this standard yet necessary movement. Squats are a very natural motion for humans to preform. Sense the beginning of time we have been squatting to preform basic tasks such as gathering food and cooking. The squat is purely a functional exercise that works your mobility, stability and flexibility. No other exercise helps to promote building muscle throughout the body than your squat exercise. The squat directly works your quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, but indirectly works the rest of your body such as your back, abs, chest and arms. This exercise burns more calories than any other exercise. If you are limited on your time for your workout make sure you get in a couple sets of squats! They will benefit you more than doing any other single exercise.
The important thing to remember is doing your squat with proper form and posture. People are generally mistaken that the squat can really injure your body, when in fact studies have disproved this theory showing that squats help to increase knee stability and help to strengthen your connective tissue. However, when you preform a squat wrong and add a bunch of weight to that poor form, this is when injuries occur.
With all this said let us go over the proper form and posture of your basic squat. First, don't use resistant weight, work on the proper form with just the weight of your own body.
1. Stand with your feet hip width apart with your weight evenly distributed to both feet, with your feet, knees and hips pointed forward.
2. Engage your abs as you bend your knees, lowering your hips back and down as if you are sitting down reaching for the seat behind you extending your hands in front of you.
3. Make sure your knees do NOT extend over your toes. Your knees should stay right above your feet. Keep your chest up and your back straight looking straight forward.
4. Focus on keeping your weight in your heels, lowering down to about 90 degrees if you can, maybe a bit lower if your strength and flexibility allows it. As you come back up to standing push your weight through your heels, squeezing your glutes at the top.
Work on doing your squat three or four times this week. Work up to doing three sets of 20 squats with 30 seconds of rest in between sets. Again this is what you are working up to, you may need to start with 8 to 10 reps with a little more time in between. The more you practice the better you will get at it. Each time you work your squat challenge your range within a safe manner so you can work on getting those hips lower and lower.
Stay toned for next week as we will have variations of the basic squat for you to work on. Practice your squat so you will be ready for our next weeks challenge. Good luck!
This week we are really going to hit it hard by working on what we call a traveling plank. Traveling planks will help you build your upper body strength as well as your abdominal muscles and legs. If you haven't been following our plank series please take a look at "The Benefits of the Plank Exercise
" for proper form and posture of your starting position of the plank. We also talked about how to make your planks more dynamic
and how to turn your planks into a cardiovascular workout
so you can really make your workouts diverse. Please follow along with the series to help you build up to the traveling plank.
Traveling planks will help you build your upper body strength by pushing yourself from your forearms up to your hands. You will be working all the muscles from your basic plank exercise
but now you will be working it harder and challenging your stability and agility even more.
To start your traveling plank you will start in your plank position
. In a controlled manner with your right arm come down to your forearm, then bring your left arm down to your forearm. Now you will be in a prone Iso-Ab position on your forearms. From here you will push yourself back up with your right hand, make sure you place your right hand just under your right shoulder and push yourself back up to your hands, now you are back into your starting plank position
. Perform this exercise on your right arm for 30 seconds or 12 repetitions. Take a 30 second break and do it again with your left arm. Work on doing this two times on each side. Once you get stronger with this exercise you can start working in the other variations of the plank giving yourself a great workout. Here is a good example of a good circuit incorporating all exercises:1. Hold your basic plank for 30 seconds, stand up and do 20 jumping jacks.2. Come back to the floor and do your plank twists for 30 seconds, stand up and do 20 jumping jacks.3. Come back to the floor and do your rockclimbers for 30 seconds, stand up and do 20 jumping jacks.4.
Come back to the floor and do your traveling plank
for 30 seconds, stand up and do 20 jumping jacks.Work up to doing this whole circuit with no rest and you will have a great full body workout that adds in your cardiovascular
workout as well. This type of workout is more fun and interesting than your boring cardio machines and you will benefit greatly from these exercises.Come on into ferrum fitness and we can give you even more variations and show you how to make your circuits fun and interesting to keep you motivated with your workouts. Working out doesn't have to be boring, in a short amount of time you can reach your fitness goals!
I hope you have been working on your plank from our last blog post "The Benefits of the Plank Exercise"
. Learning your basic plank position is critical before you move on to more dynamic and difficult exercises. There are so many ways to make your plank exercise more challenging. I hope your excited because the plank and its variations can get you the results you are looking for!
This blog post we will be focusing on the plank twist. To start this exercise make sure you are in your basic plank position
. From this position you will drive your right knee to your left elbow or arm pit and hold, contracting your abdomen. Bring the leg back and switch sides taking your left knee and drive it to your left elbow or arm pit and hold, contracting the abs. Make sure you focus on the hold and contract the abs for at least a count of two. Ab work is not all about how many reps you can do it is about the quality of the contraction.By taking your basic plank and adding in the twist you will be focusing a bit more on those internal and external obliques along with all the other muscle groups mention in "The Benefits of the Plank Exercise"
. This variation will help you with your strength and overall ability to control your body in space. To start work this variation count each knee drive and do 30 reps and rest
for 30 seconds. As this starts to become easier progress to 45 to 60 reps and rest 15 seconds. Work on this variation 3 or 4 days this week and we will add an even harder variation in the following blog post. Good Luck and challenge yourself!
The many different benefits of the plank exercise are:
- it forces your body to focus on stabilizing itself
- it strengthens many different areas of the body
- it is a great calorie burner
1. The Plank works your stabilization by isometrically contracting many different muscle including your abdominal muscles and the erector spinae to hold your body up and in place.
2. The Plank strengthens many different areas of your body. By working on your plank you will strengthen your core including your abdominals, obliques, and lower back muscles. You will begin to strengthen your arms and upper body incorporating primarily the shoulders and chest muscles. Your legs will become strong by using your quads and hamstrings.
3. Both of the benefits listed above together make this exercise a great calorie burner. With all these muscles firing you will be burning maximum amount of calories.
To preform the plank start face down, hands shoulder-width apart directly below the shoulders, feet together with the weight supported on the toes. Arms should be straight, and the back should be flat. The body should appear straight from the head to the heels when preformed correctly.
Preform the plank exercise 10 - 20 seconds three times with 30 seconds rest in between on the first day and if you feel good the next day hold it a bit longer (20 - 30 seconds) and continue to do three sets with 30 seconds rest in between sets. Work on this for the following week at least four times.
Work on this exercise and the next blog post will be a cool variation of the plank to make it a bit more challenging so make sure you practice!
Don't hesitate to ask questions if you have any. Good luck and work hard! To create change you must put your body in an uncomfortable state, otherwise you will always stay the same. You will be amazed what your body can do if you put your mind to it.